Has the “lifestyle center” made the regional mall obsolete?

RetailWire panelists recently discussed an article arguing that “lifestyle centers” have displaced the traditional fully-enclosed regional mall. “Not so fast,” I argue in the following post:

There is a “lifestyle center” in my neighborhood in suburban Milwaukee called “Bayshore Town Center.” It replaced an outdated combination of strip and indoor mall (with elements from the 50’s and 70’s), and has thrived ever since reopening in 2006. Two of its three original anchors (Bon Ton and Kohl’s) are still in place, while Sears closed last year and is awaiting redevelopment. Apparently the outdoor storefronts (in Bayshore’s faux “downtown”) are more successful than the locations inside the mall, even during winter weather.

Clearly the “socialization” aspect of lifestyle centers is important — complete with dining options, movie theatres, etc. — and it’s also an advantage not to be locked into giant mall anchor department stores as that segment continues to shrink. But the giant regional mall isn’t dead yet, as long as developers keep the tenant mix and entertainment options fresh.

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